The Challenge of Multiple Roles in the Workplace

I have developed a deep appreciation for people whose job it is to manage their multiple roles and identities in the workplace.  Here’s what I mean…

Linda is responsible for generating sales for her mid-sized company.  Much of her time is cultivating relationships with customers and ensuring her company’s products and services meet and exceed customers’ expectations.  At the same time, Linda is managing the team that ultimately produces and facilitates all aspects of customer orders. So, where should her loyalty land? She is accountable to satisfied customers AND she is accountable to developing a high performance team that works to meet customer needs.

Question: Overall, who does Linda end up treating better? The customers or her team members? I bet you know the answer… her customers. And who would blame her? The sales she generates with satisfied customers affect her financial bottom line. When her team members fall short of expectations, Linda is the one whose neck (and paycheck) is on the line.

Some people have natural skillfulness when juggling these multiple roles. From my observations, most people struggle. They become emotionally trapped, and this results in frustration and impatience.

Company leaders are well served to examine their organizational ‘dance.’ Are people positioned in such a way to be free to concentrate on their main goals and objectives? Have we set people up to be trapped?  Frustrated, irritated and disappointed managers cannot build a trusting team.

Make sure your company is organized in a way that facilitates each person’s key purpose. Don’t let cost-cutting measures trick you into thinking one person can be equally effective in competing roles. It’s the senior leadership’s job to make sure everyone is set up for success.

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